How Much Does A Patent Cost?
Between time spent researching and conducting patent searches, filing actual patent applications, waiting, and finally being granted a patent, inventors may have to make a hefty investment that isn't just monetary.
Yet the question that seems to get asked so often is, "How much does it cost to get a patent?"
In hopes of helping all you inventors plan in a more fiscally responsible way, I'll cut to the chase - we're going to talk about money and costs for patents today.
If you operate under the "time is money" philosophy, you can factor that in later; for today we'll discuss what patent applications cost, where there are fees, and what you should expect to pay in total when filing a patent.
Remember that every situation is going to be atypical with patents.
There are nuances involved, some of which are listed below, that can cause the overall cost of a patent to vary, sometimes pretty greatly.
Pro Tip about this article: Try not to just browse through it and look for dollar signs. Try to understand what costs and what scenarios will apply to you and your invention.
One of the most important aspects of moving an idea to an invention is the inventor's ability to invest the proper research and display patience - so this is good practice.
Two Approaches To Getting A Patent, And What Each Costs
If you follow the right process, or get help from the right kind of individuals and organizations, securing a patent for a unique invention is not entirely difficult.
Applying for an invention patent is considered in many quarters as an intricate process, and a patent itself is a complex legal document, but the truth is that there are millions of patents out there and that's because they are indeed attainable.
But to be completely open kimono, as attainable as patents are, they may not come cheap.
This is of course subjective: A struggling/starving artist who has an idea may have some issues scrounging up a few grand, while an already established inventor, entrepreneur or businessman may consider the investment pocket change.
Securing a patent for an invention can be done in two ways.
First, the inventor can decide to write and file the patent application him/herself or hire a patent attorney.
Personally pursuing a patent application is not so expensive, as the inventor will only have to pay the standard United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) fees. This amounts to a minimum total of about $900, depending on the kind of invention he wants to patent.
To clarify "file the patent him/herself", that doesn't necessarily mean you're going on a solo mission. There are individuals and organizations that can help you with filing, many of them free or with just a nominal fee.
The second approach to patent filing is when the inventor decides to hire a certified patent attorney.
There are several additional fees with patent lawyers, time spent being the largest. The total cost is estimated to be between $5,000 and $20,000. These figures depend on the attorney hired.
So there is obviously quite a leap between filing on your own patent and using an attorney.
If you're curious about when and why you would use a patent lawyer, we recently discussed that topic as well in a post.
Factors Involved In The Cost Of An Invention Patent
Generally, the cost of securing an invention patent depends on a number of factors that have a tendency to fluctuate from one inventor to the next, and from one invention to the next.
Even if you are an already established inventor, it's a good idea to refresh yourself on these factors when you're ready to bring a second, or any subsequent, invention to market.
Save Money On Patents: Search First
Patent searches are pretty invaluable to inventors.
It is almost always advisable to perform a preliminary search of patentability to determine whether the invention can be successfully patented.
The goal is to find out if the invention is valid, unique or novel enough to be considered by the USPTO as something new with potential commercial value.
Since we're talking about money here... Patent searches help inventors ensure that large sums of their money are not wasted in the application process. So yes, do the patent search.
Costs Involved In Patent Searches
The attorney fees and other related costs payable for carrying out a patentability search, with a written opinion of the attorney, is estimated to be between $1,000 and $4,000.
However, this cost can be circumvented if the inventor personally conducts the patentability search or if he decides to boycott the search altogether (again, doable but not recommended).
Patent Application Costs
Typically, the expenses inventors incur during a patent application are categorized into three areas:
Ideally, there are two types of patent applications. These are the provisional patent applications and the non-provisional patent applications.
Costs Involved With Personally Writing And Filing A Patent Application
The cost of personally writing and filing your patent application as an inventor is relatively cheap.
Usually, the only fees payable are the USPTO fees.
Below is the estimated breakdown of the fees involved in processing the application for a typical invention:
The fees are not payable at once by lump sum, they are usually spread out over the course of the validity of the invention patent.
Note that as earlier mentioned, the fees are subject to specific factors, most importantly, the complexity of the invention in question. Hence, the fees increase as the sophistication of the invention increases.
Costs Of Hiring A Patent Agent Or Attorney
Its generally advisable to hire a qualified patent attorney to solicit an invention patent on your behalf when applying for a non-provisional patent.
Patent attorneys typically charge about $200 to $400 per hour of service.
However, certain agents or attorneys may charge less.
When dealing with patent lawyers, a good rule of thumb is that the quality of service is directly proportional to the cost payable for the service.
Below is a typical breakdown of the attorney charges:
Patent Costs: A Summary
If you have an invention idea and are wondering what the cost would be to patent your invention, you might not be asking the right question...at least not yet.
There are a plethora of options and costs involved with taking an invention all the way to market, and with so many different roads to potentially travel, it's nearly impossible to say that a patent costs a certain amount of dollars.
As an inventor, a good first move would be to assess the commercial potential and value of your invention.
This action itself will take some legwork, but when you come down to a valuation of your product you can then use that figure to back into what kind of investment you'd want to make in a patent.
Consider this: If you truly created something that is going to be life-altering and the valuation of market potential is a number in the 6 (or 7 or 8 or more) figures, then spending a few thousand dollars on a patent has an obvious return.
However, if there are unsurities in the valuation, then the lower cost approach to obtaining a patent might make more sense.
If you really think you've got an idea that has market value, but you're not quite sure what to do next, we can help...for free. Just let us know what category your invention falls in.